Notes: Hello to all of my new and old followers, and thank you for stopping by to read Chapter Six of The Cursed King. It is starting to look like lockdown is winding down in the UK now, so hopefully these pre-chapter updates will be a little bit more entertaining in the next few weeks. Alas, for now, I am still self-isolating and focusing on staying sane as many of us are.
Some excellent news, as BeyondTheCryptsAndCastles now has 300 followers, and still slowly ticking up. So thank you to those who have been reading since the start, and of course to my new readers. I have just finished writing Chapter Eighteen this week, which was Jerimeh’s Fourth POV Chapter, so things are moving along nicely in the story and there is plenty more action to come.
I would also like to say a special thank you to my good friend, Izzie, for catching a couple of continuity errors from the first few chapters. I kept in a passage of dialogue from an earlier draft of the story that states that Queen Lorne (the imprisoned wife of King Aron) was sixteen. To clarify, Lorne is twenty, as is Aron. I cannot stress enough how important community feedback is on this story, so if you catch anything, have any notes, or questions about anything regarding the writing, the story, characters, plot etc. then constructive criticism is welcomed, and actively encouraged. This is still a work-in-progress and my first major attempt at a novel, let-alone an epic fantasy, which has many moving parts. So thank you Izzie for reading with such a keen eye, and thank you to everyone who is reading, sending me feedback or both!
At this point in the story, we have been introduced to all of the major players – Nadir, Robert, Jerimeh, Leona and Riechard. This means, that this week we are back with Nadir, who after having escaped the razing of Ashfirth, is trying to survive in the Great Forest that separates The Blacklands from The Hartlands. Nadir is alone, but not for long, as danger lurks everywhere in these forests, but the thought of finding his mother is fuelling his determination to survive.
I hope you all enjoy this chapter, and once again, thank you for reading! The next chapter will be posted on June 6th.
Nadir marked another notch on the redwood with the bodkin. He counted them one by one, and the break of dawn marked the thirtieth sunrise he’d seen alone in the woods. The first few days felt like a blur to him now, it was all running, panting and crying, whereas now he felt calmer and well-rested. He had always felt at home in the woods. Catching rabbits was the same here as it was in Ashfirth, making a fire to cook them was the same, and even places to avoid being seen presented themselves in more innovative ways.
He’d found a spot tucked in a valley with no clear paths, and that saw limited rainfall, and so the only way to safely access this spot was to roll down the hill as elegantly as possible, to try any other way would risk bending something out of shape. There were two redwood trees spaced just far enough apart to fit him plus a few more inches. It was lucky, he knew. The soft wood of the redwoods combined with the lush grass to cushion his fall as he tumbled down the hill. It took him a day to fashion a hammock out of some vines and leaves, and even then, the completed design was a crude piece of craftmanship. It sagged too low and was edging further towards the ground each night, despite his attempts to retie the ends further up the tree. Nadir was just grateful that he was still alive, and when he was certain that he was no longer being hunted, then he would return to Ashfirth and find his mother.
He kept track of his path by marking trees along the way, and he planned to follow them back as soon as he was able. There were men throughout the forest. Some of them were bandits, others travelling knights, but most were soldiers patrolling the borderlands. Nadir had been told all of the stories from his mother and Enid about living on a borderland during wartime. It was a dangerous and precarious existence, and he had now seen it with his own eyes. At any moment, he knew he could be snatched and handed over to another lord as a slave, and it would not matter to them where his mother was. They would not care to find her. He would be put to work or else they would find another use for him in the soil.
Nadir thought of his mother. She was all that he thought of. She had been with him every single day of his life until the raid, and every single day without her he felt her drift further and further away. He wouldn’t sleep until he cried, and then it felt like hours that he was sobbing until eventually he woke up, his eyes still wet from the tears. During the day, only the pain of hunger drove him out of his curled-up position. Luckily, this was the one worry he didn’t have. Rabbits inhabited these woods in their thousands, and from what Nadir could tell, he was one of the only people catching them.
He would often catch at least three, and on one particularly triumphant day he managed to catch eight. Soon, however, he found that other forest-dwellers were reaching his traps before he did, and if they found his traps it meant that they could also find him. The deeper he travelled into the forest, the further he got away from home, and from safety. If he was caught, he knew he would just be sold to another lord, his only real hope was to be reclaimed by Lord Tigos and Nadir didn’t know where to find him.
Water was hard to come by in summer, though there were plenty of lakes and streams, he had to hike high into the hills to find drinkable water. But water attracted life. It attracted people. Nadir knew that to survive he had to completely avoid all human contact, but he also needed to drink. On his first few days he found a stream, but on one morning he arrived and a camp had set up next to it, and so he followed it further up and the same thing happened again. He had been climbing higher and higher, which made him thirstier and thirstier.
The weather became dryer and the sun floated higher in the sky for longer, beaming down scorching rays of heat that darted between the canopies and seared the twig-dusted ground. It had been two days since he’d last had a drink, and his gums became rough and his lips turned crusty and sore. The last hike that took him to a fresh stream took half a day. He waited until dusk when the sun had depleted and started following the sound of trickling water up the hill. The dark was far more dangerous, but to walk in the hot sun in the peak of summer would kill him far quicker than any bandit. Nadir felt the twigs between his toes and each snap caused his heart to beat faster, only the glow of the moon provided any light, and most of that was scattered by the overarching trees.
Then he stopped by a flat platform and noticed that the camp that was previously there had been abandoned. Before, there had been a fire with a spit and linen sheets propped up on sticks, now though, it had all gone and not even a patch of ash from the fire remained. It was peculiar. He was certain that there had been a camp here, yet even in the dark there seemed to be no discarded fire or sleeping apparatus. If was as if no one had been there at all. Nadir did not have time to argue with his eyes, he leant down into the stream and scooped handfuls of water into his mouth until his thirst was quenched. He sat up against a rock and wanted to stay, but he knew that it was only a matter of time before another group came by and claimed the spot. Nadir hadn’t the strength to overpower, he hadn’t the energy to run and he hadn’t the cunning to sneak. His only hope was to find a way to get back home and search for his mother.
Suddenly, Nadir heard whispers through the trees. He had trained his ears in recent weeks, and it was unmistakable that this was a group of at least four men. He scuttled quickly behind a tree on higher ground and waited to see who approached. It was dark, but those attuned to the sounds of the forest would hear every leaf that crunched beneath their soles. The voices grew louder and his heart thumped inside his chest, hard enough that he thought the group may hear it. Only the trickling stream covered his panting, which only turned into a higher-pitched whistling when he tried to breathe through his nose.
One man emerged from the trees. It was too dark to see what he looked like, though he could see his long hair dangling from under the hood that covered his face. Two other men followed him, both wearing long robes with hoods covering their heads and most of their faces. Nadir remained as still as his body would let him. One by one each man stooped by the stream and filled their flasks before settling onto the floor to take a sip.
“Perhaps we should make this our rest stop for the night,” the first man said.
The other men agreed, and Nadir felt a prang of worry. He was stuck. If he moved, he would be spotted, but now he had to remain perfectly still until they left or fell asleep. After a few moments, one of the men cleared aside the ashes of the dead fire and poured a pile of twigs and sticks in its place. He retrieved two flints from his satchel and scraped them together. Within moments a spark had ignited into an ember. Nadir realised that these must be experienced woodsmen, he had never seen anyone start a fire so quickly and with so little effort.
It did not take long before the fire was roaring and the men were sat around the camp laughing and talking. Nadir had heard bandits talk before, but they usually spoke of war, their wives or other women. These men did not speak of any such thing. They spoke of the woods, they spoke of the trickling stream and of their experience in nature. And then they spoke of Natos and Jivana, and once that conversation began, they did not stop. It wasn’t long before Nadir realised that these men must have been Monks or Godsons. It filled him with relief, but he did not know which kingdom they served. He had travelled so far into the woods, that he was no longer sure whether he was in The Hartlands or The Blacklands. Then he wondered, if they served the church, did it matter what Kingdom they resided in? Nadir wasn’t sure, but he felt it too risky to try and find out.
Most people in these woods passed around flasks of wine, but these men did not drink anything but water. The monks in Ashfirth would be punished for doing so, and the ones who were found frequenting brothels, he never saw again. Nadir felt his stomach lurch, and relaxing from the danger made him realise how hungry he was. He could put his hand over his mouth to stop his panting from being heard, but he could not control the noises his stomach made. It growled and squelched, and as soon as the men stopped talking, they would surely hear something. Before long, Nadir had got to know the names of the Godsons, and the lowering of their hoods revealed their faces.
The man with his back to him was named Geom, and although he could not see his face, the fire lit up his messy bright orange hair and revealed a stocky silhouette. On Geom’s left was Sckyen, who looked to be the youngest. Sckyen had oily black hair that draped over his shoulders and rested underneath his pointed chin. On Geom’s right was Stillius, by far the oldest of the group, he spoke in a slow drawl that emitted from a croaky throat. His hair was short and grey, and was broad-shouldered, muscular, but sported a round belly. Between Stillius and Sckyen was Lecite who had a strong foreign accent that Nadir couldn’t place, he had never heard such a guttural, aggressive sound. Lecite was by far the tallest among them, brown-skinned just a shade lighter than Nadir and very slim, but by no means skinny.
It was Lecite who set up the spit and retrieved the meat from their bag. It was hard for Nadir to tell what it was. It had already been skinned, but it didn’t look like a rabbit, though it was only slightly larger. Once it started cooking over the fire, the smoke carried the sweet smell of its juices into his nostrils and his stomach made its loudest growl yet.
“Was that your stomach, Geom?” Stillius laughed.
“Perhaps I’m hungrier than I thought!”
Nadir was tempted to speak to them. These were the first men he’d seen in the woods that were not bandits or soldiers. Perhaps he could trust them. Maybe they would help find his mother or at least show him the way back to Ashfirth. The thought swirled in his mind. He pondered with the idea the more the smell of the cooking flesh found its way to his freshly-watered tongue. He salivated as he watched them bite off chunks of perfectly charred meat.
Suddenly, there was more noise. Though it was not made by the Godsons. Two men emerged from their woods, their clothes tattered and their hair straggled and matted together. Lecite immediately stood tall and put his hand out before him.
“Wait one moment, please. Identify yourselves.”
“I’ve never seen an Amentian in a robe. Don’t your lot run around with leaves over your bollocks?” The first man said. He had thick brown hair and an unkempt beard full of leaves and other foliage. The other man was shorter by a few inches and shared the same beard, but the hair upon his head had all but gone, but for a few tufts that hung from the back of his head like the leaves of a weeping willow.
“What can we do for you?” Stillius also stood beside Lecite. He rose slowly and with his hands apart and open.
“Couldn’t help but smell your dinner, and wondered if we could do a trade for a few hunks of meat,” the shorter man, but his tone was mocking and cold.
“What is it you have to offer in exchange?” Stillius asked, still poised in a human wall with Lecite between the fire and the other monks.
“Your lives.” The shorter man reached into his boot and pulled out a dagger in unison with the taller man.
“This doesn’t have to end in bloodshed. Just give us your food and your coin and we will be on our way,” the taller man said with a croak in his voice.
Stillius and Lecite stood their ground. Behind them, Geom and Sckyen rose from their seats. “You come into these woods, in this darkness and you dare threaten us?” Geom snapped.
“Sit down, monk. I’m warning you all. There will be blood if we don’t get what we want!” The short man spat.
Sckyen took a step forward. “There will be blood either way.”
The fire spat and sparked, and in an instant, the monks reached into their habits simultaneously and each pulled out a dagger of his own. The short man yelled as he charged into Stillius, but he was met with a boot to his side by Lecite and fell into a patch of nettles. The taller man then lurched forward with his dagger, but Lecite swifly edged backwards and avoided the blow. Sckyen and Geom dragged the man from the nettles and pinned his wrists to the ground whilst Stillius disarmed him. The tall man caught Lecite with a fist and turned towards Sckyen. Geom let out a groan as the dagger came down on Sckyen, which was enough for Sckyen to roll out of the way. The dagger found its way into the short man’s leg who let out an almighty squeal as blood pooled around his feet. Sckyen took advantage of the tall man’s shock and used his own dagger to slice his ankle. The tall man fell to the floor as Stillius retrieved the embedded dagger from the short man’s leg. The monks surrounded their grounded attackers and secured the daggers in their habits. Both bandits winced in pain and held their affected limbs in agony.
“Please…please help me,” the shorter man pleaded. “Monks must help an injured man.”
Stillius chuckled lightly and was soon joined in a raucous cacophony of laugher from his group. “You are right. Monks must help an injured man. If only we were monks.”
“Stillius, what would you have me do with these men?” Lecite asked, nursing his nose that was dripping with blood.
“Tie them up, we will take shifts watching them. I’d rather them be here where we can see them. We will leave at sunrise and if they’re lucky, a well-meaning stranger will see to them and untie them.” Stillius leaned in close to the short man. “Perhaps they will be the monks you so desire.”
The men were tied together temporarily with some vines that they had gathered in the immediate area. Nadir watched them tie them up, but was shocked at the lack of efficiency. The vines they used could easily be broken through with a bit of force or a few minutes rubbing up against some tree bark. In Nadir’s hiding spot alone, he saw two bramble bushes that would have an ample supply of strong vines to tie them together. Nadir had thought of running away during the scuffle, but he felt it too dangerous to be seen by anybody. He could no longer trust these men either. Were they monks? Were they just dressed that way? He suddenly had no idea who these men were and what they were capable of. The thought worried him, but if he moved whilst these men rummaged around in the forest now, he would certainly be spotted. Nadir decided it was best to wait, but with each man keeping watch, he would have to wait all night. It was already getting cold, and he was exposed on all sides with little heat from the campfire reaching him.
Before long, the men were asleep, but Stillius and the two captured men were still awake. An occasional agonised groan emitted from the lips of the captives, but for the most part they remained quiet. Stillius did not take his eyes off the two men and sat across from them sipping from his flask. Nadir started to feel pangs of tiredness, and soon the ground became as soft as a pillow and the tree he leaned up against provided ample support. He started to feel his eyes flutter, but he kept himself awake and shook his head vigorously to avoid leaving himself vulnerable. When Stillius’ shift was over, he woke Lecite who rubbed his tired eyes and swapped places with Stillius. Lecite seemed more sympathetic to the bandits and offered them water, which they reluctantly accepted. He even tried to incite conversation, but the pain was clear on the men’s faces even in firelight. It wasn’t long before the looks of pain turned into pitiful grimaces. The faces of men who knew they had done wrong and who feared for their life. Wounds became infected quickly in the woods, and animals could smell blood.
Wolves were common in the woods, though they did not like their prey fit and healthy, nor did they like it fast and skinny. Nadir did not fear wolves. He accepted very quickly that he would be a lacklustre meal for a pack of hungry animals, although this group of grown men would be an ample feast. Distant howls echoed throughout the hills and valleys of the forest, but soon Nadir noticed something. The howls became easier to hear, clearer and more plentiful. Each howl unnerved him, but he felt guilty for thinking that if it were the choice of chasing a quick boy and feasting on two wounded men, then he would be safe. He even thought that the monks who weren’t monks had enough weaponry to defend themselves. Nadir had nothing but his speed. By the time it was Lecite’s turn to swap, the howls became so loud that Nadir jerked his head to check they were not behind him.
“Please…please they’re coming. You need to help us down the hill. We all need to move,” the shorter bandit begged,
“Quiet! We are not prey, the wolves will not bother us,” Lecite told them uncertainly.
Lecite rustled Geom and awoke him so quickly it was almost as if Geom hadn’t even slept. Another howl filled the air and the other men stirred.
“What was that sound?” Stillius asked in a sleepy daze.
“Wolves…” Geom panicked. “We must leave immediately.”
“Where will we go? It is pitch black, there is nothing to guide us. For all we know we could be heading further towards them,” Lecite retorted.
“If there are wolves, they will be coming down from the mountains, not towards them. We will be far safer further down the hills,” Geom said.
“What of them?” Stillius gestured towards the captives.
“We are not monks,” Sckyen sat up and rubbed his eyes.
“But we are not monsters either,” Lecite sighed and hoisted up the taller man who winced in pain before shifting his weight onto his good leg. “Stillius, Geom. Help the other man.”
Nadir watched as Geom and Stillius lifted the shorter man onto their shoulders. It was pitch black. It had taken Nadir weeks to work out the easiest way down into the valley, and he could already see the men start to move the wrong way. He watched as the only men who could help him wandered to their deaths. In an instant, his legs and his mouth moved in unison without his approval, and he found himself sprinting in front of the group.
“Wait!” He shouted far louder than he intended. “You’re going the wrong way. We need to get to a valley.” Nadir lowered his voice to a loud whisper and watched as the men pondered him.
“Have you been spying on us?” Stillius accused.
“There’s no time for this, Stillius! Lad, can you lead us?” Geom asked.
Nadir nodded. “We’ll have to be quick. Follow me.”
Nadir jogged on ahead as the other men struggled to keep up. He made sure to stay within their line of sight enough so that they could follow his tracks. The embryonic glow of first light licked at the ground through the trees and took the edge off the pitch-black darkness of peak night. Nadir could not hear the other men struggle over his own panting, but he persisted and continued on. The howls were so close now that Nadir was certain if they had stayed at the camp, they would already be dead.
“How much further?” Lecite wheezed.
“We must go as far as we can. Until we reach water or until we drop, whatever comes first,” Geom explained grimly.
“I have a camp, it’ll be too steep for the wolves to get to,” Nadir replied.
“Then how do we get to it?” Stillius asked.
“We close our eyes and roll,” Nadir said and pushed through the trees.
When they finally reached the edge of the drop, Lecite dropped his man heavily onto the floor. The bandit cried out in pain, which brought louder howls from the wolves. Stillius, Geom and Sckyen soon followed and dropped the other captive who was sweating profusely and barely awake.
“They are too close. We must move now,” Geom panicked.
“That is a steep drop,” Stillius said as he peered over the edge.
“It will be better than the alternative,” Sckyen admitted.
“We have to roll. We can go another way, but so can the wolves. This is the only route. Tuck your arms and legs in, cover your head with your hands, hold tight and roll until you feel yourself slow down, then put your hand out and grab onto whatever you can. If you keep on rolling, you’ll crash into a tree,” Nadir told them.
Geom was the first to go. Even with dawn emerging, he disappeared into the darkness within a few seconds. Lecite followed and then Sckyen. All of a sudden, the howling stopped and through the trees, Nadir spotted the slow prowl of the alpha. The pack was at least six-strong, each wolf snarling and flicking saliva to each side as their heads moved. The bandits looked up at Stillius like lost children as their eyes begged him for mercy.
“We have done far more for you than you deserve. If you want to live, you can follow us. If you want to spare the world your wretched existence, then nobly feed these wolves so we don’t have to,” Stillius growled, crouched to his knees and rolled down the slope.
Nadir crouched, but the shorter man clutched his wrist and yanked him towards him. “Look at me, lad!” He growled. “Do not trust these men.” Nadir pulled away from his grasp and the bandit released him. “May Jivana guide you.”
Nadir rolled down the slope as he had done many times before. He had picked the smoothest route, which the other men had not and Nadir worried he would meet a group of injured and angry men. He took a few bumps, but curled his arm around a sapling that bent enough to limit the shock of the sudden stoppage. When he got to his feet and brushed himself down, he saw Stillius sat up against the tree, nursing his elbow. Lecite stood over him whilst Geom and Sckyen took respite sat on a log. Nadir looked up at the slope. He half expected to hear the anguished cries of the bandits rolling down the hill as their injured limbs smacked into roots and trunks. After a few moments, Nadir realised that they had decided to stay. He looked over to Stillius who was considering him.
“How long have you been in these woods?” Stillius asked.
“Just gone a month.”
Nadir shook his head.
“Where are you from?” The old man asked. Nadir looked around him. A wrong answer to that question in the borderlands could cost him his life. Nadir shook his head and nodded towards Stillius who smirked. “You’re not stupid, are you? Well you can relax, we have no affiliation to Kingdoms or ordinary men. We are servants of the earth.”
“I am from Ashfirth,” Nadir told him. “My village was razed by soldiers from The Hartlands. My neighbours were murdered and my mother was taken.”
A pang of sympathy flashed across Stillius’ face for a moment. “Lord Tigos is currently lodging safely in Ayden, though I doubt he will stay for long. We are in for a long and painful war.”
“This will cause a war?”
“I’m afraid the destruction of your village was a symptom of the war, not the cause. This runs far deeper than a few dead peasants I’m afraid to say.” Stillius looked around him as the sun started to illuminate their surroundings, which revealed Nadir’s crude camp. “Why were you spying on us?”
Nadir looked around at the accusing eyes of Stillius’ peers. “I was drinking water when you stumbled across the stream. We are far away from any here so I had to hike up the hills. I waited, but you decided to make camp, and so I kept on waiting.”
Stillius smirked again. “Why did you help us here?”
Nadir looked at the ground for a moment and then raised his head and stared into Stillius’ eyes. “You’ve asked me enough questions. I have one for you. Can you help me find my mother?” Nadir held his gaze.
Stillius waited and looked for his comrades for answers. He looked startled by the question, unsure how to answer and yet desperate to find the right words. Lecite approached Stillius and placed a hand on the older man’s shoulder and met Nadir’s stare.
“We cannot promise to find her, son. Of that I must be clear. But it would be dishonourable not to try,” Lecite answered.
They all slept in until noon. The piercing heat of the sun was enough to wake them all from their slumber despite their tiredness. Nadir had convinced them all that no one could find them down such a deep valley, and it would take a long time to make more progress through the woods. Once they had awakened, Nadir shared what remained of his rabbits in exchange for some of the group’s water. He also had a swig of wine, but just the one. It was tart and left his mouth dry. Nadir scrunched up his face after he’d tried it to the delight of his new companions.
It took a few hours to reach a path that the group recognised, and from there they found a small inn that sat at the bottom of a track surrounded by brambles. Nadir only knew of one inn just outside of Ashfirth that could only handle a few travellers per night. Not many travellers needed to go through Ashfirth, and most who did were taking the long way around, which either meant they were on the run from a crime or were trying to commit one. This inn seemed to be about the same size, and if there were already men in there, then it was unlikely they would find a room.
Stillius lead Nadir through the door by his shoulders and was greeted with a warm smile from the landlord. He was a broad-shouldered man with dark hair and a wide jaw. His smile was pleasant and genuine, and he wore an apron and draped a towel over his shoulder. Immediately, he spread his arms wide and embraced Stillius.
“How very good of you to remember our establishment, Stillius!”
“Establishment, Michael? I didn’t realise King Aedvard was staying here!”
Michael pulled Stillius close. “We’re tryna speak proper to get more of these lords in ‘ere. I ‘aven’t seen this much business in months.”
“Have there been more raids?” Geom asked, pulling up a seat and signalling the bar maid to bring him an ale.
“I’ve ‘eard one or two mutterings and the like. A few villages across the border, about what you’d expect, but nothin’ that ain’t quickly solved.”
“Sounds like scouting missions taken too far by bloodthirsty knights,” Lecite grimaced.
“No doubt you’re proba’ly right, but I’m not gonna make any complaints whilst they’re linin’ my pockets full of silver,” Michael looked down at Nadir and then back up to Stillius. “I didn’t realise the Order took ‘ostages now,” Michael said lightheartedly.
“Michael, this is Nadir. He’s a refugee from Ashfirth. His village was raided and his mother was taken. I don’t suppose you’ve heard any gossip about where these men were headed?”
Michael looked at Nadir again. His eyebrows furrowed and Nadir couldn’t tell if he was studying him or was angry with him. “Aye, I think I might ‘ave an idea. Though we can’t talk ‘ere,” Michael lowered his voice and signalled to the ceiling. “These floorboards are thin, and my voice carries. Come with me.” Michael led them down towards the cellar where the casks of ale were kept. Several large cauldrons were filled with fermenting liquid that emitted a strong, but pleasant odour. He took them to the far corner of the cellar and huddled close.
“Two young lads were in ‘ere a few weeks ago. I recognised their sigils – they were Lord Garrison’s men. Well they got to drinkin’ as they’re like t’do, and they’re loud as anythin’. I over’eard ‘em sayin’ they’d got captives with buyers already. All’s they needed to do was get ‘em down to the docks at Silver Ci’y, and they’d buy the lot. Didn’t mind ‘bout age or strength or none o’that. Jus’ needed bodies they s’posed. Sounded a bit under t’table, t’me”
“Did you see the captives?”
“Di’n’t leave the inn the ‘ole night. Not wi’ Garrison’s lads in’ere.”
“Do you remember what they looked like?”
“First one wasn’t much t’look at. Ugly feller, a round, red face, busted up teeth. Di’n’t look much noble t’me. Other boy was though. ‘Air down to his back, that smile rich folks ‘ave, like they know somethin’ ya don’t. Cocky li’le gobshi’te ‘e was.”
“Did you see anyone like that, Nadir?” Stillius asked.
Nadir nodded. The man with the rabbit. The rabbit he had caught. I should have warned them, Nadir thought. I should have gone straight to Lord Tigos. Nadir felt sick to his stomach. “How do we get to Silver City?”
Stillius looked concerned. “Silver City is a big place, lad. They’d have been and gone by now, and I fear that…” Stillius stopped himself.
Nadir suddenly felt the blood leave his face. “That she may already be sold?”
“Let’s not think about that right now. Lord Garrison is attending Myriam Talford’s birthday tourney at Hillhold in a few days. It is on the way to Silver City, perhaps we can catch some whispers there and seek out these knights.”
“By Jivana, Stillius. I’ve never seen you so ‘elpful,” Michael said.
“This boy saved the lives of four ravens, Michael. You know as well as anyone, the Order repays all debts in kind.”